Posts Tagged ‘baking’

Cakes & Bakes: Soul cakes

Thursday, October 29th, 2015

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Home-made soul cakes | H is for Home

These soul cakes are very fitting for this week’s Cakes & Bakes. They’re part of an ancient Christian tradition that took place in the UK – especially ‘up North’ – each All Hallow’s Eve. Or as it’s better known in this day & age, Halloween.

sugar, butter and egg yolks

The cakes were baked on All Hallow’s Eve to honour the dead – hence the name ‘soul’ – and the cross made on them before baking. On All Saints’ Day (1st Nov) and All Souls’ Day (2nd Nov), they were then were given as alms to the poor (especially children). Perhaps it’s the origin of modern day trick or treating.

plain flour and ground spices

I searched through all my old-fashioned cookery books and finally found a recipe for them in the not so old A Calendar of Feasts: Cattern Cakes and Lace.

adding currants to soul cakes dough

The recipe isn’t the most detailed, but from the way they turned out, I’d say they were more a biscuit than a cake! If I made them thicker than I did, they’d probably resemble scones… but they wouldn’t have cooked completely through in the 15 minutes advised.

cutting soul cakes dough

I was all out of the mixed spice that the recipe called for; I did some detective work and found out that Schwartz mixed spice comprises nutmeg, cinnamon and ground coriander seed. I used half a teaspoon each of nutmeg and cinnamon… I was all out of coriander seeds too!

uncooked soul cakes

I don’t think the mixed spice is mandatory if you don’t have any, soul cakes can be made with ground ginger, allspice, the aforementioned nutmeg and cinnamon… or any mixture of all the above!

soul cakes cooling on a wire rack

I wonder if I’ll get any funny looks from the neighbourhood kids if I hand these out when they come around trick or treating this weekend! :-)

Soul cakes
Yields 20
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Cook Time
15 min
Cook Time
15 min
  1. 175g/6oz butter
  2. 175g/6oz caster sugar
  3. 3 egg yolks
  4. 450g/1lb plain flour
  5. 1tsp ground mixed spice
  6. A little milk to mix (I used about 4 tbsps)
  8. soul cakes ingredients
  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas mark 4
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl and then beat in the egg yolks one at a time
  3. Sift the flour and the spice into another bowl then add to the butter mixture
  4. Stir in the currants and add milk if necessary to form a soft dough
  5. Form the dough into flat cakes and mark each with a cross
  6. Put on a greased baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes until golden brown
Adapted from A Calendar of Feasts: Cattern Cakes and Lace
H is for Home Harbinger

Cakes & Bakes: Spinach, cheese & onion tart

Thursday, October 22nd, 2015

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Home-made spinach, cheese & onion tart | via @hisforhome

I bought myself a brand new, fluted loose-bottomed tart tin this week and couldn’t wait to use it!

ball of wholemeal shortcrust pastry

I decided to make a spinach, cheese & onion tart from a recipe that I tore out of a Telegraph magazine a few weeks ago.

wholemeal shortcrust pastry flan case

A couple of spoonfuls of English mustard adds a nice piquancy and depth of flavour.

wholemeal shortcrust pastry flan case ready to be blind-baked

We got six, good portions from the tart which can be eaten either hot or cold.

slicing onions and garlic

It’s perfect for a light lunch with a few salad leaves – and can be made well in advance if you’ve got guests coming and don’t want any last-minute stress.

washed fresh spinach

We had it the following night as more substantial evening meal pairing it with paprika-salted potato skins and mixed salad.

eggs, cream and English mustard

There are all kinds of flavour variations possible using this basic method – bacon, chorizo, smoked salmon, goat’s cheese, mushroom…

spinach, cheese &onion tart

Very delicious and very versatile.

Spinach, cheese & onion tart
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For the pastry
  1. 200g plain flour
  2. 100g wholemeal flour
  3. 150g cold butter, cubed
  4. pinch of salt
  5. 3tbs cold water
For the filling
  1. 30g butter
  2. 550g onions, peeled and very finely sliced
  3. 6 cloves garlic, sliced
  4. 450g spinach
  5. 2 whole large eggs, plus 3 egg yolks
  6. 300ml double cream
  7. 2tsp English mustard
  8. 150g mature cheddar, grated
  10. cheese soda bread ingredients
For the pastry
  1. Put the flour, butter and pinch of salt into a food processor and pulse until it resembles breadcrumbs
  2. Add the cold water, a tablespoon at a time, pulsing between each addition until the mixture comes together into a ball
  3. Shape into a thick disc, wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for half an hour
For the filling
  1. Melt the 30g of butter in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan and gently cook the onion and garlic, with a little salt, until slightly golden, then add a good splash of water and cover
  2. Sweat on a low heat until the onions are soft and sloppy - around half an hour - stirring occasionally
  3. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/Gas mark 4 and put a metal baking sheet inside
  4. Roll out the pastry and line a loose-bottomed tart tin 27cm diameter or 20 x 28cm (keep any leftover bits of pastry)
  5. Chill for 20 minutes
  6. Take the lid off the onions, turn up the heat and let the excess moisture bubble off and the onions cook until they are golden and sweet
  7. Wash the spinach and cook in a covered pan with just the water left clinging to it, about 4 minutes over a medium heat, until wilted
  8. Drain in a colander and leave to cool
  9. Line the pastry case with parchment paper, fill with baking beans and blind-bake on the preheated tray for 15 minutes
  10. Remove the paper and beans and cook for a further 7-10 minutes
  11. Remove from the oven and use any leftover raw pastry to patch any cracks
  12. Squeeze the excess moisture out of the spinach, chop roughly, season and add to the onions
  13. Mix the eggs, yolks, cream and mustard and season well
  14. Spread the onion and spinach in the tart case, sprinkle on the cheese and pour on the cream mixture
  15. Put back into the oven, on the baking sheet, for 30 minutes, until set in the middle and golden
  16. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving
H is for Home Harbinger

Cakes & Bakes: Roman bread

Thursday, October 15th, 2015

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Salad & cold meat platter with Roman bread

I had about 250g of wholegrain spelt flour languishing in the baking cupboard for months. There wasn’t really enough of it to make anything by itself so I combined it with some plain, strong bread flour to make a version of Roman bread.

Adding olive oil to Roman bread dough

Roman bread – as you may guess – is apparently a recipe found in the Apicius – an 4th century cookbook. It’s a simple, rustic loaf consisting of spelt flour, water, yeast, honey and olive oil.

Roman bread dough in loaf tins

Spelt is an ancient grain that would have been common at the time the Apicus was written. It fell out of favour in the 19th century but, mainly because of its lower gluten content, it’s growing in popularity once more.

Two Roman bread loaves

Spelt dough requires more liquid, but doesn’t need to be kneaded or proved for as long as regular wheat flour – which is an advantage if you’re pushed for time!

Base of Roman bread loaves

I would have thought that the yeast originally used would have been of the wild variety, made using grape must.

Loaf of Roman bread, sliced

I may attempt to make an ‘authentic’ Roman bread soon – using a pre-ferment, 100% spelt flour and will form the loaf into a traditional round rather than use a tin. I’ll let you know how it turns out!

Roman bread
Yields 2
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Cook Time
45 min
Cook Time
45 min
  1. 250g wholegrain spelt flour
  2. 250g strong bread flour
  3. ½tsp salt
  4. 1tsp quick yeast
  5. 1tbsp honey
  6. 400ml warm water
  7. 1tbsp olive oil
  8. Roman bread ingredients
  1. Preheat the oven to 200ºC/fan 180ºC/400ºF/Gas mark 6
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt and quick yeast
  3. Dissolve the honey in the water and roughly mix it into the flour
  4. While the dough is still craggy add the oil and mix well
  5. Knead or work the dough for a few minutes then divide between two 500g/1lb bread tins
  6. Cover and leave to rise in a warm place for about 25 minutes
  7. Bake in a pre-heated oven for 40/45 minutes
Adapted from Doves Farm
Adapted from Doves Farm
H is for Home Harbinger